Sun Tsu and the Art of War, Sales Dogs, Guerrilla Sales. Just what do all of these convey? They shout out and reinforce the long-held notion that selling is a war and that salespeople must battle with potential customers to get business.
As salespeople, we have been taught the skills of confrontation and disagreement. The means and methods of being on top in a negotiation. The lines to handle objections. The philosophy of being a winner (which pre-supposes that there is a loser). The techniques to manipulate the prospect by ensuring that a “good presentation” has, as the only outcome, after a series of well-crafted questions and statements, only one possible answer for a prospect, which is naturally, a yes.
What utter rubbish! I am offended, disappointed and dismayed by this type of information still being taught and promoted in sales training and just released popular sales oriented literature. Have you got the feeling that I am steamed up? Ticked off? Upset? Or just plain angry?
I have offended myself that in the past I have been one of the peddlers of this tripe. I am angry with myself, that I have promoted some of these ideas that I now see as not only unnecessary, but also potentially harmful.
OK so what happened? It may appear that I am acting like the apostle Paul when he was knocked off his donkey by a revelation and got up with the zeal and passion peculiar to the recently converted. Well in a way that is what’s happened. I had an experience recently that has fundamentally shifted the way that I look at selling. I have field-tested the concepts and am now ready to report to you the almost miraculous results. Enough preamble what on earth happened?
The idea came from Allan Parker. A man who has taken the study of negotiation and human communication and turned it into an art form. I recently attended his “Negotiator’s Toolkit” workshop. Allan has turned negotiation around the full 180 degrees from an essentially adversarial process into one that sees negotiation as a way to search for “reasonable, mutually beneficial outcomes”. The program is as brilliant as this new perspective Allan brings.
How does the new concept work?
If I was to get a fresh sheet of flip chart paper and in the centre put a solid dot with a black pen, and then ask people what they saw, what do you think the answer would be?
I have done it in workshops and 97% say they see a black spot. In other words they see, and then focus on, the blemish on the white paper. This in spite of the fact that there is an enormous amount of white space compared to the one solid dot. In selling there is a parallel. Many salespeople (notice I didn’t say all) spend much of their energy worrying about, preparing for, and time in a sale, handling objections. Simply put—they manage disagreement.